LOS ANGELES - Dressed to maim, kill and titillate, Anne Hathaway owns the Catwoman character in The Dark Knight Rises. Fussing about her casting ends now -- with an exclamation point!
"I think Anne's way too sexy in the film," writer-director Christopher Nolan says about Hathaway's sensational effect. He adds, tongue-in-cheek: "I think Morgan should have played the role!" That would be Morgan Freeman, who instead reprises Lucius Fox, grumpy brainiac behind Wayne Enterprises.
The 29-year-old Hathaway hard-bodied herself in the gym for the role. As Catwoman -- although no one utters that nickname about her Selina Kyle character -- Hathaway wears black latex and leather, with a stylish eye mask. Plus leather boots with stealth stilettos in the heels.
Hathaway knew what she had to do when Nolan announced, prior to filming, "There's going to be a lot fighting." Remembering how Joseph Gordon-Levitt buffed up to do his own fight scenes in Nolan's Inception (and again in The Dark Knight Rises), the soft-bodied Hathaway was intimidated and inspired.
"I went: 'Gotcha, I'm reading between the lines here.' I just went into the gym and came out when we wrapped. It was a complete transformation. I had never done anything like that. It wasn't just about looking a certain way. I had to learn to fight. I had to come strong enough to fight for many days at a time."
One relief is that Nolan never suggested a physical ideal, like some filmmakers do to sex up actresses for action roles. Instead, Hathaway says, the mandate was simple: "Learn to do what you have to do and, however you look, that's how the character looks."
As for moving quickly on high-heeled boots, no problem, says Hathaway. "You just do. It's part of being a woman. You just figure it out. The Devil Wears Prada was really good training for that, though."
Hathaway's Catwoman follows in a less interesting lineage than Christian Bale's Batman, although the character is merely a year younger. Originally known as The Cat when moonlighting as a villain, cat burglar Selina Kyle was introduced in the first stand-alone Batman comic in 1940. But she remained unseen on screen until the campy 1966 series and movie. Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether and Eartha Kitt all played her over-the-top. Michelle Pfeiffer aced the role in Batman Begins (1992). But Halle Berry spectacularly flamed out in Catwoman (2004).
Hathaway faces no such fate. Her Catwoman/Selina Kyle is purr-fectly smart, sexy and never superficial. "I know that Anne went into it with a very fully formed idea of the characterization," Nolan says in praise.
Marion Cotillard's complex character, Miranda Tate, is just as well conceived, Nolan adds, making them equal to his male stars.
"Some of it comes from the script and a lot of it comes from getting Anne Hathaway and Marion Cotillard. I relied on them a lot to construct a very credible psychological basis for the characters, just as I have with all of these guys."
Count Batman among Hathaway's fans. "I saw it when she first auditioned," Bale tells Sun Media about his co-star's chops. "I turned to Chris and went: 'She owns it!' "